Attendance increased at two of the three state parks in Chautauqua County this year.
According to information from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Midway State Park in Ellery and Lake Erie State Park in Brocton both increased attendance by 5 percent. Midway's attendance was up 4,482 to a total of 87,362 between Jan. 1 and Aug. 26. Lake Erie State Park's visitation increased by 3,582 to 79,248.
Gary Quattrone, Allegany Region park manager III, said the main reason attendance was up this year was the weather.
Attendance numbers at Midway and Lake Erie state parks were up this summer.
P-J file photos
''We had a beautiful summer. It was almost rain free,'' he said. ''It got people out and about and got them into our parks.''
Located on the shore of Chautauqua Lake, Midway State Park was originally established in 1898 as a trolley park. The park is one of the oldest continually operating amusement parks in the nation.
Quattrone said park officials are trying to spruce up Midway to attract visitors.
''What we are trying to do is keep the historical and hometown feeling that has always been in everyone's backyard,'' he said. ''We are giving a facelift to what is there and maintaining the historic value.''
Midway offers a family-friendly atmosphere where patrons can take a nostalgic ride on the carousel, a spin on the tilt-a-whirl or use the picnic shelters for a reunion or company picnic. Accessible by the water, Midway is a place where people can fish and dock their boats for free, too.
Lake Erie State Park provides high bluffs so visitors can enjoy the view of a Great Lake. Lake Erie State Park features a shoreline covering more than three quarters of a mile. Kevin McNaillie, Lake Erie State Park manager, agreed the weather was the most important influence for greater attendance.
''Obviously warmer temperatures and a lack of rain brought people here,'' he said. ''We are hoping the word is getting out and people think about us as a great place to come and camp.''
McNaillie said park officials are trying to attract more people by doing nature programs. Also, there are 97 campsites and 10 cabins for people looking to stay outdoors.
''We have nature trails we make available to campers for our bird-watching program and we have hikes through the woods with a naturalist,'' he said. ''We have cabins and no vacancies all summer long.''
Long Point State Park on Lake Chautauqua had a 3 percent decrease in attendance this year. The park and marina had 1,599 less visitors for a total of 54,431. Quattrone said he can't account for the decrease. He said cosmetic improvements are being made to increase visitation.
''We're updating things, like our bathrooms. We are sprucing it up and trying to attract people,'' he said. ''Maybe people that normally go to Long Point went to Midway instead this year.''
Statewide, the park system welcomed more than 43 million visitors, which was a 5.6 percent increase or 2.3 million more people.